9 Ways to learn to love running

While some of us are already hooked on running, I know there are people out there who genuinely want to try, but are intimidated. Or have just started running, but don’t really get the “runner’s high” that everyone talks about. Don’t worry – we have put together a great list of ways you can learn to love running and make it part of your lifestyle!

1. Start slow.

It might seem really hard right now, but I promise you that it gets easier (and then you step it up and it gets hard again, but that’s another story). Start slower than you think you need to go, and gradually work your way up to a faster pace or longer distance. Also? It’s okay to walk. You could try the run/walk method, or just walk when you feel like you need to.

2. Set a goal.

For some people, that might be to finish one mile without stopping, for others that might be to run a 5K, or even a half marathon. Whatever it is, a goal can get you in a rhythm and give you a sense of accomplishment.

3. Get some external motivation.

For some people, setting a goal is a great motivator, but for others it might be something like finding a friend or club to run with, picking a new trail to explore, or signing up for something like Fun Run Box to try out fun new things on your run.

4. Find some good music.

Music can turn even the most boring run into a fun work out, if you pick the right tunes. Create a running playlist of your favorite songs for your phone/iPod, or check out Spotify Running – it picks songs that match your running tempo.

5. Keep it simple.

Don’t try to get crazy with all kind of work outs, just keep it simple and take it easy. This really basic training plan from Runner’s World requires just 30 minutes, three days a week.

6. Schedule it in.

If you stick with it and make running a habit, it will become easier. In fact, it will become one of the best parts of your day!

7. Do a little research.

Check out a book, search online, and pay attention to what you eat before your run, how long you need to wait before heading out, whether you need to take hydration, what kind of hydration to take, etc. You want to feel good while you are running, and that’s part of it.

8. Get the right shoes.

Again, you want to feel good on your run, so visit a local running store and get fitted for the right shoes. This will decrease your potential for injury and keep you out there (which is the goal, after all).

9. Remind yourself of why you started in the first place.

Maybe you want to be healthier for yourself or for your family, maybe you want to meet new people, or maybe you just want a new challenge – whatever your reason for starting is, remind yourself of it when the going gets tough. We believe in you!

Why did you start running? What helped you get “hooked”?

Feature Image: SimonWhitaker

10 Trails That Will Motivate You to Start Trail Running

Some of you are probably already trail runners, some of you may have dabbled, and others may avoid them altogether. We rounded up some of the most gorgeous trails in the United States that will have even the most adamant road runner hitting the dirt.

Rock Creek Park, Washington, D.C.

Photo Credit:
Photo Credit: Bart

With more than 32 miles of dirt trails that wind through the woods, past waterfalls, and along ridges, Rock Creek Park is a great place for beginner and expert trail runners alike. It’s one of the oldest federal parks, established in 1890, and has two main trails – the green-blazed Western Ridge Trail, and the blue-blazed Valley Trail.

Dipsea Trail, Mill Valley, CA

Photo Credit: advencap
Photo Credit: advencap

Found within the Muir Woods National Monument, this place is very popular in the trail running world, because of the Dipsea Trail Race, founded in 1905 (and the oldest trail race in the world). It’s a challenging, technical trail, but many people love the views of the Pacific and the San Francisco Bay so much that it’s worth walking when you need to. Not to mention that it goes through the only old-growth coastal redwood forest in the San Francisco Bay area.

Emerald Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park

Photo Credit: Mike Shaffner
Photo Credit: Mike Shaffner

Again, not the easiest trail (considering the elevation of Colorado), but look at that picture! The Bear Lake trail up to Emerald passes by a couple other lakes on the way, but the trip is worth it.

Kalalau Trail, Kauai, Hawaii

Photo Credit: Dan Dwyer
Photo Credit: Dan Dwyer

There trail is mostly level, running along sea cliffs and through lush valleys with some stunning drop-offs and wonderful views. Look for wild goats grazing along the Kalalau trail!

Appalachian Trail, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Photo Credit: Shane Lin
Photo Credit: Shane Lin

Most people have heard of the iconic Appalachian Trail, that runs more than 2,000 miles from Maine to Georgia. Any section of the trail is beautiful, but we especially recommend running through the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. Want a glimpse at the whole trail? Check out this 5-minute time lapse video from ultrarunner Karl Metzler.

McKenzie River Trail, Eugene, Oregon

It's also super popular for mountain biking. Photo Credit: Dave H.
It’s also super popular for mountain biking. Photo Credit: Dave H.

The whole trail is 27 miles, but don’t let that scare you away – simply go out and back and much or as little as you’d like. But once you get out there, surrounded by greenery, running over log bridges and past lava fields and past hot springs, you may want to keep going.

Moab, Utah

Take a run through Arches National Park. Photo Credit: Bowman!
Take a run through Arches National Park. Photo Credit: Bowman!

The great thing about running in Moab, Utah, is that no matter where you go, you’ll be surrounded by the beautiful red rocks that the area is known for. There are tons of trail options to choose from, so all you need to do is get out there!

Mullens Cove Loop Trail, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Photo Credit: Nickajack Naturalist
Photo Credit: Nickajack Naturalist

Close to downtown Chattanooga, the Mullen Cove Loop Trail has amazing views of of the Tennessee River Gorge and beyond.

Alafia River State Park, Brandon, Florida

Photo Credit: Livin' in a Trailer Down by the River
Photo Credit: Livin’ in a Trailer Down by the River

The park is shady and cool, running around swamps, ponds, creeks. You will see an abundance of wildlife across 17 miles of trails at Alafia River State Park.

Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Canyon, Texas

Photo Credit: sarowen
Photo Credit: sarowen

Palo Duro Canyon, also known as the Grand Canyon of Texas, is the second largest canyon in the United States. With it’s red rocks, creeks, and meadows, you will wonder if you are in Texas or back in Moab.

9 Ways to Recover After a Long Run or Race

Recovery. One of the most important (and overlooked) components of a training plan. According to RunnersWorld.com, recovery is:

“the restoration of energy-producing enzymes inside the muscles, functional proteins, fat and carbohydrate stores, and the regeneration of the endocrine and immune systems, Stellingwerff says. Recovery comes down to repairing, resting and refueling–while still allowing the body to adapt to the training workload and reap fitness gains. So the seconds, hours and days between all those bouts of running matter.”

But what is the best way to start the recovery process after a long run or race? It’s normal to be tired and have some soreness after pushing your body, but there are a few things to try and see what helps your body bounce back faster.

Before you worry about recovery, though, make sure you are getting enough sleep, eating good foods, and staying well-hydrated. The better you take care of your body when you aren’t running, the more you can set yourself up for success in the first place.

Now, on to the recovery options!

1. Recovery Drinks

While studies have shown that chocolate milk and coconut water could be good options post-workout, a drink specifically made for recovery, with a 3:1 or a 4:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio is going to give you the best returns. Ideally, get this down within 30 minutes of finishing your activity.

2. Eat Something

If you didn’t eat something with your recovery drink, the other window for consuming fuel for optimal recovery is one to three hours post-run. This would be a good time for a nutritious meal.

3. Ice Bath

The ice bath is a strategy that some swear by, while other studies show that long-term use of the ice bath can actually hamper recovery. That being said, anyone who has soaked their legs in the cold ocean after a long run knows that it seems to have some benefit. Cold water (it doesn’t even have to be freezing!) can reduce inflammation and improve circulation to your muscles.

4. Massage

Getting a massage on sore, tired muscles will reduce swelling and put you back at 100% more quickly. The sooner after a hard workout, the better.

5. Foam Roller

Can’t afford or don’t have time for a massage? Pull out the foam roller or tennis ball, and get on those tired muscles!

6. ROLL Recovery R8

The ROLL Recovery R8 is a relatively new recovery product that has several spring-loaded wheels. You can get a deeper massage than a foam roller, but still do it on your own at home.

7. Compression Socks

While there is conflicting information about compression socks as well, they are known to reduce next day soreness. Like massage, the sooner you get them on after a hard workout, the better.

8. Stretch

Don’t let those tired muscles tighten up! A good time to stretch is right after your run, or after a warm shower, and can be anything from this squat to a set of post-run stretches.

What methods of recovery have you had success with after a long run or race?

Feature Photo Credit: Resilience Fitness & Nutrition

15 Inspiring Runners to Follow on Instagram

With more than 400 million users, it seems like just about everyone is on Instagram, so naturally it’s one of the first places we turn for a little running inspiration (runspiration?). Whether you are looking for new places to add to your dream destination list, checking to see what kind of training your favorite pro did this week, or just trying a little inspiration to get through your next workout, we’ve got you covered.

1. Deena Kastor

Deena is one of the most famous women runners in the United States, holding the American records in the marathon and half marathon. She is currently writing a book.

deena kastor

2. ashruns100s

A six-time 100 miler, Ashley posts amazing pictures from the trails and her race adventures that will have you jonesing to hit the dirt.

ashruns100s

3. runeatrepeat

If you’ve been running for any amount of time, you’ve probably heard someone say “I run so I can eat.” Monica blogs and posts inspirational pictures of quotes and (of course) food.

runeatrepeat

4. Runnerspace

This is a great account to follow to keep up with the track and field scene.

runnerspace

5. Meb Keflezighi

Recently qualifying for the 2016 Summer Olympics, Meb also won the Boston Marathon in 2014, becoming the first American man to win the event since 1983. Check out his account to see how he trains, where he trains, and what running-related events he’s up to.

meb

6. Kara Goucher

Another well-known female runner, Kara posts about her training, her life, and her nutrition.

kara goucher

7. Rickey Gates

Looking for some trail inspiration? Check out Rickey Gates, a photographer, writer, and trail runner.

rickey gates

8. mileposts

Dorothy is the creator of the I Run This Body movement, and is always posting pictures with positive messages. She is also training to qualify for Boston 2017.

mileposts

9. annafrosty

Anna loves running and exploring the mountains and regularly places in ultras.

annafrosty

10. Voltwomen

Voltwomen is dedicated to celebrating the women’s running community.

voltwomen

11. InstaRunners

Reposts of fun pictures from runners all around the world.

instarunners

12. Usain Bolt

Mostly running (races and training), some random pictures from his life, and the occasional shirtless photo (your welcome, ladies) of the one of the world’s fastest men.

usainbolt

13. Sage Canaday

This guy runs pretty much any distance on any surface, and has the photos to prove it. He’s pretty fast, too, having qualified for the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, and won a handful of 50K, 50M, and 100K races.

sagecanaday

14. Scott Jurek

Ultrarunner, Appalachian Trail Hike-Thru speed record holder, and vegan, Scott posts about training and eating in Boulder and beyond.

scottjurek

15. Runners Community

Runners Community features a “Runner of the Week” and boasts “if you run, you are a runner. It doesn’t matter how fast or how far.”

runners community

Who is your favorite runner on Instagram? Share below in the comments!

Beginner’s Guide to Running Gear

They say that running is great because all you need to do is lace up a pair of running shoes and go, right? Technically, that’s true, but most runners add a few more pieces of gear to their regular running routine. While most of the things on our list aren’t absolutely necessary, many of them are nice to have and will make running much more enjoyable.

1. Technical Clothing

If you take one thing away from this article, let it be that you should not wear cotton to work out. Cotton absorbs water and then clings to your body instead of wicking the sweat away and drying quickly. For shirts, it can mean nipple chafing for men, or general discomfort for women. For socks, it can cause blisters. The technical clothing is going to cost more, but (in general) will last longer and make you more comfortable while you’re running. Sometimes technical clothing also comes with fun pockets or other neat features.

2. Shoes

I always recommend going to a local running store and getting fitted for proper shoes. You may have some pronation going on that could benefit from some extra support, or you may not need anything and a support shoe would cause some discomfort. A good pair of running shoes is going to be an investment, but is worth it.

3. Watch

Watches can range from a simple sports watch to a more advanced GPS tracking watch. Garmin and Polar both have some great GPS options, and some can even be programmed with intervals if you are doing specific training, or if you are on a run/walk plan. While I know some people use phone apps like RunKeeper to track their distance, it’s easy to have it on your wrist and then you don’t have to take your phone if you don’t want to. The GPS watches are also more accurate that your phone app.

4. Sunglasses

A good pair of sunglasses can make a huge difference. Look for a lightweight pair that stays in place and has polarized lenses. Polarized lenses are great for summer or winter running!

5. Hat or Visor

This one is far from a requirement, but many runners swear by them. Some even have a moisture-wicking band along the inside!

6. Headphones or Earbuds

Almost everyone I know listens to music when they run, and you have a couple options here. There are headphones that go over your head, earbuds that go in your ears, or wireless headphones/earbuds. There is even a company out there called Aftershokz using bone conduction technology with wireless headphones so you don’t have to put them on your ears. Headphones and earbuds range from pretty cheap ($10-20) all the way up to $150+. Make sure you try them out first, if possible. They might feel okay for a few minutes, but you want something that will feel comfortable for your entire run.

7. Hydration

For me personally, I bring something with me for a run that is an hour or more, but I know other people who bring hydration for a 30 minute run if it’s hot enough, and others who don’t take anything out unless they are running double digit miles. It’s completely up to you, but at some point in your running “career” you are going to get thirsty out there. There are backpack type options with a water bottle or a bladder, waist options with a couple bottles (like a Spibelt or FuelBelt), or a handheld bottle.

You can fill your hydration pack with water, or something with electrolytes like nuun.

8. Fuel

Again, this is a personal preference, and includes gels, blocks, shots, “waffles“, or even a bar like a ProBar or Simple Squares. It’s just a little something extra to keep you going on those longer adventures.

9. Compression Socks or Sleeves

Compression socks are designed to move the blood through your legs, increase oxygen delivery, decrease lactic acid, and reducing overall recovery time. Some people love ’em and others never use them, so experiment with them to see if they work for you. You can try them during a long run, or putting them on to help with recovery for after a long run.

10. Headlamp or light

This is more for safety than necessity. If you are running in the early morning, dusk, or even at night, you need to make yourself visible. Even if you don’t go all out and get a headlamp, at least consider a little safety light.

11. RoadID

Also for safety more than anything else. A RoadID is something that can either be a little tag on your shoe, or a bracelet that has your basic emergency info. – who to call and any medical conditions/allergies. They don’t cost that much, and are worth it should anything happen!

Feature image: PRweb.com

Quick Guide to Running with Your Dog

If you are a runner and have a dog, chances are you would love to be able to run together. And even if your dog pulls, stops to pee every 5 seconds, or is terribly out of shape, in most cases it’s simply a matter of getting them in shape and used to running. That being said, check with your vet before starting your dog on a running program, just to make sure your four-legged friend is as ready as you are!

1. Make sure your dog is ready.

Besides a vet visit, this means:

  • staying up-to-date on vaccinations,
  • nail trimmings, grooming (if applicable),
  • sunscreen (if your dog has super light skin or thin fur),
  • make sure your dog is older than 1.5 years.

2. Get the equipment. 

You may want to get your dog a reflective collar or even a light to attach to his harness or collar. I prefer to run with my dog with a harness, just in case he sniffs something – I don’t want to jerk his neck.

You can also get a hands-free waist leash, which will make your life a lot easier and won’t interfere with your running form as much as holding a regular leash might.

3. Start easy.

If you haven’t been walking your dog regularly because of winter weather, start with walking a few days a week. As you are walking with your dog, don’t let him stop and sniff without a command such as “go ahead”, “okay”, or “sniff”, so that he learns that he can’t just stop and sniff anywhere he wants (which will be helpful when you start running).

4. Introduce running and gradually build up your dog’s endurance.

Depending on your dog, this may be a running/walking program, or a jogging program. Start with 10 minutes of running and see how your dog does. Add 10 minutes each week until you get up to your desired time/distance. At first, your dog may want to go much faster, but he will get used to your pace in time and after that initial excitement.

5. Other things to consider:

  • If it’s too cold or your dog has shorter hair, he may need a jacket.
  • In the summer, try to go in the morning or later in the evening when the pavement is cooler. Also, don’t give your dog boots in the summer because he may overheat.
  • Bring extra water for your dog when your runs start to get longer.

11 Tips for Running When You Really Don’t Want To

We get it – sometimes it’s just plain hard to get out the door to run, even though you know you will feel better afterwards. But don’t worry, we put together a list of tips that will help you get motivated to go the distance!

  1. Try new music.
    Whether you create a new playlist or just try a different set of tunes on Pandora or Spotify running, mix it up a little bit!
  2. Run a different route.
    It can get boring to run the same direction, the same loop, and the same neighborhood every day. Check out Strava or Map My Run for new ideas.
  3. Just walk.
    Get outside and start moving. Tell yourself you will just walk for 15 minutes. Whenever I do this, it’s guaranteed that I will pick up the pace and probably spend more time out there, too.
  4. Sleep in your running clothes.
    If you’re a morning runner, this eliminates one big step from your routine, and makes it so much easier to get out the door as planned.
  5. Call a friend.
    Assuming you aren’t running at the crack of dawn, call a friend to run with you.
  6. Find a running group.
    The accountability of knowing others are expecting you will get you to that workout (and you’ll make new friends!).
  7. Get inspired.
    Whether that’s watching a clip of Meb winning the Boston Marathon or checking out what other runners are up to on Instagram, get psyched and get out there!
  8. Try a new workout.
    If you usually head out for a few easy miles after work, try a track workout. If you always run on the roads, hit the trails. A change of pace is always a good thing!
  9. Sign up for a race.
    If my motivation starts to wane, I register for another race. If I’m registered for a race, I’m going to put in the work.
  10. Plan a reward.
    For some of us, that might be frozen yogurt, for others, that might be pizza, or a reality TV show. Whatever you want, make yourself wait until after you run to get it. And hey, it might even make you run a little faster.
  11. Think positively.
    Snap out of those negative thoughts! Instead of dwelling how terrible/long/hot/cold it is, focus on the positive feelings you will have afterwards. Think about the overall benefits of running. Think about how close you are to your race or weight goals, and get out there!

Feature Photo Credit: Green Yatra Blog